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Week 4: Race

Tutor: Dr James Poskett

In this seminar we focus on the history of racial science in the twentieth century. This was a period in which racial science was widely adopted across the colonial and postcolonial world, reinforcing hierarchies of power. But it was also a period in which racial science was challenged, adapted, and reworked by colonised peoples as well as postcolonial states. Drawing on a series of recent articles, we examine how historians have engaged with the complex relationship between science, race, and twentieth-century politics. In doing so, we build on the discussion from Theories, Skills, & Methods.

Seminar Questions

  • What is Warwick Anderson’s critique of the existing history of racial science?
  • What roles did nationalism, anticolonialism, and decolonisation play in the development of twentieth-century racial science?
  • How did colonised and formerly colonised peoples respond to racial science?
  • What historiographical trends do these articles reflect? Do you agree or disagree with them?

Seminar Readings

Warwick Anderson, ‘Racial Conceptions in the Global South’, Isis 105 (2014)

Sebastián Gil-Riaño, ‘Relocating Anti-Racist Science: The 1950 UNESCO Statement on Race and Economic Development in the Global South’, The British Journal for the History of Science 51 (2018)

Projit Bihari Mukharji, ‘The Bengali Pharaoh: Upper-Caste Aryanism, Pan-Egyptianism, and the Contested History of Biometric Nationalism in Twentieth-Century Bengal’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 59 (2017)

Elise K. Burton, ‘Red Crescents: Race, Genetics, and Sickle Cell Disease in the Middle East’, Isis 110 (2019)

Additional Readings

Alison Bashford and Philippa Levine, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics, (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Elise K. Burton, ‘“Essential Collaborators”: Locating Middle Eastern Geneticists in the Global Scientific Infrastructure, 1950s–1970s’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 60 (2018)

Elise K. Burton, ‘Narrating Ethnicity and Diversity in Middle Eastern National Genome Projects’, Social Studies of Science, 48 (2018)

Erik Linstrum, Ruling Minds: Psychology in the British Empire (Harvard University Press, 2016)

Jock McCulloch, Colonial Psychiatry and the “African Mind” (Cambridge University Press, 1995)

Michelle Brattain, ‘Race, Racism, and Antiracism: UNESCO and the Politics of Presenting Science to the Postwar Public’, The American Historical Review 112 (2007)

Nadia Abu El-Haj, The Genealogical Science: The Search for Jewish Origins and the Politics of Epistemology (University of Chicago Press, 2012)

Nancy Stepan, ‘The Hour of Eugenics’: Race, Gender, and Nation in Latin America (Cornell University Press, 1991)

Peter Wade, Carlos López Beltrán, Eduardo Restrepo and Ricardo Ventura Santos, eds., Mestizo Genomics: Race Mixture, Nation, and Science in Latin America (Duke University Press, 2014)

Projit Bihari Mukharji, ‘From Serosocial to Sanguinary Identities: Caste, Transnational Race Science and the Shifting Metonymies of Blood Group B, India c. 1918–1960’, The Indian Economic & Social History Review 51 (2014)

Projit Bihari Mukharji, ‘Profiling the Profiloscope: Facialization of Race Technologies and the Rise of Biometric Nationalism in Inter-War British India’, History and Technology 31 (2015)

Saul Dubow, Scientific Racism in Modern South Africa (Oxford University Press, 1997)

Sloan Mahone and Megan Vaughan, eds., Psychiatry and Empire (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)

Suman Seth, ‘Introduction: Relocating Race’, Isis 105 (2014) (And see other articles in this ‘Focus’ section of the journal Isis.)

Warwick Anderson, The Cultivation of Whiteness: Science, Health, and Racial Destiny in Australia (Duke University Press, 2006)